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Chapter 8 Verse 12
which is mine, is before me: thou, O Solomon, must
have a thousand, and those that keep the fruit thereof two hundred.
former part of these words seem to be the words of Christ, asserting his interest in his vineyard, the church thereby explaining and confirming what the church had said in the former verse. The latter part of the text appears to be the words of the church, allotting proper portions to the owner and keepers of the vineyard.
I.Christ asserts his claim, right and property in his vineyard, the church; “my vineyard, which is mine, is before me:” in which may be considered,
1st, The vineyard itself, which is the church of Christ, and is called so for several reasons, which have been shown on the preceding verse.
2dly, This is expressed in the singular number, a vineyard; for Christ’s church is but one, as he asserts in chapter 6:9, though it is true, we read of vineyards, in the plural number, in chapter 7:12, because there are several separate, distinct and congregated churches; though these all make up but one catholic church, one “general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven.”
3dly, Christ asserts his right and property in his vineyard, “My vineyard,” says he; whereby he confirms what the church had said in the foregoing verse; where has been shown in what respect he is the owner of it, and what kind of right he has to it;
4thly, He doubles this claim of his unto it; he not only says, “My vineyard,” but adds, “which is mine;” whereby, 1. He excludes all others from having any right unto it; the vineyard is his, and only his; he is the sole proprietor of it; none has any thing to do with it but himself. 2. By repeating his claim, he shows the certainty of it; that his title is unquestionable and indisputable: and indeed what can be more sure and evident, seeing his Father has given it to him, who had an undoubted right to dispose of it? nay, he has purchased it with his own blood, and has it now in possession; he is right heir to it, according to God’s own appointment though he wicked Jews, the chief priest’s and Scribes; who were the keepers of the vineyard, when our Lord was here on earth, when they saw him, “said among themselves, This is the heir, come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance; and they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him,” (Matthew 21:38, 39). 3. He may use this additional phrase, “which is mine,” to distinguish it from all other vineyards; as also to shew the excellency of it, it being preferable to all others; this world, when compared with Christ’s church, is a mere desert and wilderness; all other vines are of “the vine of Sodom, and of the fields of Gomorrah; their grapes are grapes of gall, their clusters are bitter,” (Deut. 32:32, 33). 4. He repeats it, to signify the great delight he took in his vineyard; as it is in itself preferable to all others, so it is exceeding valuable and delightful to Christ; he says of it, “the lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea; i have a goodly heritages” (Ps. 16:8).
5thly, He says, that this vineyard was before him; which may denote, 1. The omniscience of Christ; which in general extends to all persons and things, that ever were, are, or shall be; “Lord, says Peter, thou knowest all things,” (John 21:17), but in a more especial manner he is concerned about his own people, whom he knows by name, and is acquainted with all their wants and necessities; he knows his own flock, and the state of it, which the Father has committed to him; he knows every sheep and lamb therein, in what condition they are, and what is most suitable for them; he knows his vineyard, and the several vines which grow there; there is never a plant escapes his notice and watchful eye; he is acquainted with every one of them, and in what case they are. 2. The omnipresence of Christ; he is the Lord that “fills heaven and earth” with his presence; the whole World is before him, but more especially his church; where, in a peculiar manner, he grants his gracious presence, there he dwells, and will abide for ever; who holds the “seven stars in his right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks,” (Rev. 2:1). 3. The delights and complacency, which Christ takes in his church; it is ever before him; his eye is continually upon it; he cannot bear it out of his sight, so dear and valuable is it to him: thus it was from everlasting and has continued ever since, and so it ever will; his delight from all eternity “were with the sons of men,” the elect of God, “rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth, where he knew,” in time, he should have a vineyard planted. 4. The care of Christ over his people, “who are engraven upon the palms of his hands, and whose walls are continually before him;” though Christ does indeed let out his vineyard to keepers, yet he does not neglect it himself; he is present with them, and works by them; it is still in his own hands, and under his watchful eye; “I the Lord,” says he (Isa. 27:3), “do keep it; I wilt water it every moment, lest any hurt it; I will keep it night and day.” Thus these words may be expressive of Christ’s claim unto, affection for, and care over his vineyard, the church. Though,
There are some Interpreters who take them to be the words of the church, speaking of her vineyard; by which may be meant, her own soul, and the particular concerns of it: thus every one has a vineyard to look after; and in what condition that of the slothful man’s was, may be seen in Proverbs 24:30, 31, which was all grown over with the thorns, and nettles of sin and corruption; its stone wall or fence was broken down, so that he was exposed to every snare and temptation. Or else, by this vineyard may be meant, the church in general; for believers have a mutual interest in each others persons, gifts, graces, prayers, etc. and being all members of one and the same body, should, as the apostle says (1 Cor. 12:26), “have the same care one for another.” Though perhaps the several gifts and talents, whether of nature or grace, which God bestows upon his people, may be intended; which are all to be used for the glory of Christ, and the good of his church for as every one has a vineyard of his own, or a particular work assigned him in the vineyard, the church; so he has his particular gift, talent and capacity for that work, which ought to be used by him; for he must one day give an account thereof. Now the church here says, that her vineyard was before her, thereby signifying her care, watchfulness, and diligence in it, of which we have an instance, chap. 7:12, and shows that she was now in a different frame from that of which she complains, in chapter 1:6. Though I think that the former sense of the words is most agreeable. Yet,
II.The latter part of the text, “Thou, O Solomon must have a thousand, and those that keep the fruit thereof, two hundred,” manifestly appears to be the words of, the church allotting proper portions: First, To the owner of the vineyard, Solomon. Secondly, To the keepers of it, the ministers.
First, She allots to “Solomon a thousand,” that is, a thousand pieces of silver, as in the former verse: where is to be considered,
1st, Who is meant by Solomon; by whom, no doubt, the Messiah is intended; as is acknowledged by R. Ahen Ezra,10251025In loc. & in Praefar. ad Comment. in lib. and other Jewish10261026Vid. Shirhashirin, Rabba. & Alshech in loc.& R. Abendan. Not. In Miclol Yophi in Psal. lxxii. so, writers though Maimonides10271027Yesod. Hattor. c. 6, s. 12. says, that “wherever the name of Solomon is mentioned in the Song of Songs, it is holy, and is as the rest of the names, except that, a thousand unto thee, O Solomon:” to which some10281028Vid. Vorst. Not. in Maimon. ibid. Vid. T. Bab. Shebuot, fol. 35. 2. add also, chapter 3:7, but that Christ, and not Solomon, is here intended, is most agreeable to the nature and design of this song.
2dly, The church’s manner of addressing him, “Thou, O Solomon,” shows that she was now in his presence, had much nearness to him, and used much freedom and familiarity with him, as she was by him allowed to do.
3dly, The allotment which she makes to him, is, “a thousand;” which, 1. Is the sum agreed upon in the former verse for the church is willing that Christ should have all that he demands or desires; she would have no abatement made, but would have him have his whole due, and full revenue of glory from his people. 2. It is a far greater share than what is assigned to the keepers; and good reason there is it should be so; for he is the head and master of them, as well as the owner of the vineyard; he is “all and in all, and God over all, blessed for ever;” his is the vineyard, and all the fruit thereof; he has a right unto it, and takes the chief care and oversight of it; so that “neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth, but Christ, who gives the increase;” and therefore should have all the glory. 3. This shows the fruitfulness of this vineyard, that it yields so large a profit both to the owner and keepers of it.
Secondly, The share allotted to the keepers, is, “two hundred;” from whence may be observed.
1st, That the ministers of the gospel shall have their reward; every one that labors in the vineyard shall have his penny; and every man, as the apostle says (1 Cor. 3:8), “shall receive his own reward, according to his own labor; whether he be employed in watering or in planting.”
2dly, That their having their reward, is no lessening of Christ’s; for he has his whole thousand, though they have their two hundred; nay, Christ comes at a considerable part of his revenue, through their having theirs; for “he that receiveth you,” says he, (Matthew 10:40), “receiveth me;” where ministers are valued and honored, Christ also is.
3dly, As one10291029Durham in loc. well observes, where Christ gets his due among a people, there and there only do ministers get their due; where Christ is heartily received, the feet of them that “bring glad tidings” will be beautiful; where Christ has his thousand, ministers will have their “two hundred;” but if Christ comes short of his due, no wonder that ministers should of theirs: but what is this two hundred, which is due to the keepers? Why, 1. An honorable maintenance for themselves and their families; for “the laborer is worthy of his reward,” which is his due according to God’s ordination: hence the apostle (1 Cor. 9:7-14), establishing the truth of this, from several instances in nature, from the reasonableness of things, as well as from proofs out of the law of God, adds, “even so hath the Lord ordained, that they which preach the gospel, should live of the gospel;” but this is but the least part of their “two hundred.” 2. Honor and esteem among the people, to whom they minister, is another part thereof; for (1 Tim. 5:17, 18), the elders that rule well, “are to be counted worthy of double honor;” by which the apostle means, first an honorable maintenance, as is manifest from his following words; and then, that duty and respect which are due to them from their people, who ought to “esteem them very highly in love,” not for their persons, but “for their works sake.” 3. The conversion Of sinners is another part of this two hundred; and indeed, godly and faithful ministers think that they have a very large share of their reward, when their labors are succeeded this way; for, “what is our hope,” says the apostle (1 Thess. 2:19, 20), “or joy , or crown of rejoicing? are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ, at his coming? for ye are our glory and JOY:” and as the conversion of sinners, so the comfort and edification of saints; their steadfast adherence to, and continuance in the doctrines of the gospel, are likewise a great satisfaction to them; “for now we live,” says the same apostle (1 Thess. 3:8), “if ye stand fast in the Lord.” 4. Eternal glory is the complement of it; they will have their full two hundred in heaven, how math short so ever they come of it; here; where, instead of it, poverty, disrespect and reproach frequently attend them: then “they that turn many to righteousness shall shine as the stars for ever and ever,” (Dan. 12:3), who when they have “fought the good fight of faith,” (2 Tim. 4:8), they shall receive “the crown of righteousness,” which is laid up for them, and shall be given, not only to them, “but unto all them also that love Christ’s appearing.”
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